239. Memorandum From the Chief of the Near East and Africa Division, Directorate of Plans, Central Intelligence Agency (Roosevelt) to Mitchell1

1. Mossadeq’s reason for resignation of National Movement fraction from Majlis:2

Felt he could not control Majlis much longer and felt it focal point mounting criticism his government.

2. Opposition reaction must be:

Stress every way point that what is left of Majlis is legal government of country, its democratic center as opposed Mossadeq’s illegal dictatorship.

3. All points which follow should have some bearing on Item 2 above.

4. What is present status of Majlis?

We think a fairly good case can be made out for considering remaining members to be a Majlis in fact, or at least in legal theory.

The Majlis should have 136 members. This time Mossadeq stopped the elections when only 80 had been elected. When ⅔ of 80 assembled in Tehran had session opened by Shah, named temporary officers and started approving credentials of each other. When ¾ of deputies credentials approved then permanent officers (for one year) elected and committees chosen. At that time no one challenged legality of session on basis that it did not have 136 members or any proportion of 136. Since that time it has been meeting on the 80 basis as follows:

⅔ of 80, or 52, must be present to begin debates

¾ of 80, or 60, must be present to take a vote on a motion or a bill

A majority (½ plus 1), or 41, may pass bills or motions.

5. Mossadeq and his supporters will probably say that the Majlis is finished because it does not have enough members for a quorum.

6. Mossadeq may want to legally dissolve the Majlis to support Item 5 above. According to Article 48 (as amended) only the Shah has authority to dissolve the Majlis. Mossadeq may claim that his full powers bill gives him this authority, but if he does so he is sure to lose many supporters.

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7. Our program should be as follows:

a. Arrange that as many as possible of the opposition deputies take bast3 in the Majlis.

b. Have as many as possible of the opposition deputies declare that the Majlis is still alive and will carry on its business.

8. To implement this program we must be prepared to carry out the following actions:

a. The Shah must not be allowed to dissolve the Majlis by decree.

b. According to Supplementary Article 69, the Majlis has the duty of denouncing to the Supreme Court offenses committed by Ministers. According to Supplementary Article 60 the Ministers must appear before the Majlis every time they are summoned to do so. Thus the remaining Majlis should summon Dr. Mossadeq and when he refuses to come should denounce this offence, and others, to the Supreme Court.

b [c]. According to Supplementary Article 67 when the full majority of the Majlis is dissatisfied with a cabinet or a minister, the cabinet or minister is considered as dismissed. The remaining element of the Majlis should be prepared to take this vote when so instructed.

d. According to Supplementary Article 54, the Shah may order an extra ordinary meeting of the Majlis. We must be prepared to have him order such a meeting, to which all those deputies who have illegally resigned would be invited.

e. It is probable that the resignation of the National Movement fraction will not have been done in a legal fashion since such resignations have to be properly referred to a committee and then passed on by the body of the Majlis. Thus, we should emphasize that they are still members. Here a formula might be for the remaining elements of the Majlis to meet, elect permanent officers, and then declare that all deputies not attending sessions were legally excused from such attendance. This should solve the problem of a quorum, since the quorum of the Majlis is based upon the number of deputies, minus those whose absence has been excused by the Majlis.4

  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency, DDO Files, Job 80–01701R, Box 3, Folder 12, Misc. Correspondence—TPAJAX. Secret. The recipient is referred to as “Mr. Mitchell” in the original and is not further identified.
  2. The National Front deputies in the Majlis resigned on July 15. See Foreign Relations, 1952–1954, vol. X, Iran, 1951–1954, pp. 735–736 (Document 333).
  3. The Farsi word “bast” translates as “sanctuary.”
  4. In another memorandum of the same day, Roosevelt commented that “now incline believe if we able stress National Movement not legally resigned and still members then can have Shah call session at time required by plan. Also feel immediate bast by members fits into best concept of plan.” (Central Intelligence Agency, DDO Files, Job 80–01701R, Box 3, Folder 12, Misc. Correspondence—TPAJAX)